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Title:Linking the landscape: legal and policy tools to promote connected habitats in fragmented landscapes
Author(s):Wilkosz, Jacqueline M.
Advisor(s):Freyfogle, Eric T.
Department / Program:Natural Res & Env Sci Law
Discipline:Natural Res & Env Sciences Law
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
land-use law
private property
climate change
Abstract:We have entered a sixth mass extinction period, and habitat loss due to human land uses has been named as one of its leading causes. By converting land to urban and agricultural land uses, humans have fragmented millions of acres of once-contiguous habitat. Fragmentation alters the spatial configuration and ecological processes of the remnant habitat fragments. These ecological changes impact plant and animal species, leading to population declines and, for some, local or total extinction. The impacts of fragmentation are projected to become more pronounced as the climate changes, hindering many species from adapting to novel climate conditions by shifting to a range with more hospitable climate conditions. Corridors can improve species viability in heavily-fragmented landscapes as well as in a changing climate by facilitating movement between separate habitat patches. Establishing broad linkages is logically feasible in areas with large reserves of habitat, primarily in the north-western region of the United States. The rest of the nation, however, lacks large habitat reserves and is dominated by private landownership. How do we establish corridors in landscapes like those in central Illinois or the sprawling metro-Chicago suburbs? Implementing linkages in these landscapes will require a coordinated, inter-governmental effort on landscape and regional scales. Legally, we must integrate stewardship into private landowner duties, update the common law meaning of “harm” to encompass ecological harm, and enhance government ability to curb harmful land uses. To achieve real conservation gains, however, we must move socially and culturally toward an ethic of stewardship within the private landscape.
Issue Date:2010-06-22
Rights Information:Copyright 2010 Jacqueline M. Wilkosz
Date Available in IDEALS:2010-06-22
Date Deposited:May 2010

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